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Bush Power Group LLC proposes plasma gasification plant to city of Huntsville

Simple schematic of a Plasma Gasifier

Simple schematic of a Plasma Gasifier

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On May 18, 2010, Bush Power Group, LLC proposed to the Huntsville City Council what they believe to be a “mutually beneficial cooperative agreement” with the City to develop a plasma gasification plant on the city’s existing landfill project site.

The proposal states that Bush Power Group would finance, construct, manage, and operate the plant. The City of Huntsville is to provide municipal solid waste, sewage sludge, used tires and green waste delivery, as well as infrastructure support such as scales and access roads.
Municipal solid waste (MSW) includes everyday household trash and garbage, consisting of items such as product packaging, grass clippings, furniture, clothing, bottles, food scraps, newspapers, appliances, paint, batteries, and more. According to, 2005 statistics show that U.S. residents generated approximately 4.5 pounds of waste per person per day; more than 245 million tons of MSW in a single year.

StopThePAG (Plasma Arc Gasification plant), a local online Meetup group concerned about the proposed plant and how it could affect the community, are “worried about air pollution, groundwater contamination, property values, and Huntsville’s image.”
Citing an incident in Kapolei, Oahu, where the Asia Pacific Environmental Technology “stored excessive amounts of untreated infectious medical waste at their facility”, violating the state’s rules for solid waste, one StopThePAG organizer writes, “If for some reason they can’t torch the infectious medical waste, it just piles up. If Huntsville’s facility goes off-line, the trash is going to pile up.”

What is plasma gasification?
Basically, plasma gasification is a process, using an electric arc (plasma), that converts complex organic molecules and carbon to saleable assets like metals, slag, a synthetic gas (Syngas), potable water, steam, power, and FT liquids.
A video to explain the process can be found at:

Is plasma gasification technology truly clean and green?
Wes Muir, Director of Communications for Waste Management, Inc. writes that “With the development of the PEM [Plasma Enhanced Melter] technology, gasification technology has progressed to the point of being considered a source of green energy.” In his article, Expanding Waste-Based Renewable Energy, Muir says “it does hold the potential to process a wide range of waste streams to generate clean, renewable fuels and electricity.”

Recovered Energy, Inc. (REI), an independent engineering and consulting firm dedicated to the promotion of the most current technologies for the recovery of energy from waste, investigated approximately 70 different gasification processes and 36 plasma gasification processes. REI concluded that “Waste can be gasified to produce synthesis gas (syngas), which can be used to produce electricity. Gasification technology is well proven. There are more than 100 plasma gasification plants around the world.”

Plasma Waste Recycling, Inc. (PWR) believes “Plasma Waste Recycling is on the leading edge of clean and efficient conversion technology to recover resources and generate electricity…a more efficient, more reliable, and less capital intensive method to convert municipal solid waste (MSW) to energy and recycled materials.”

In the meantime – reduce, reuse, recycle.
Residents of Huntsville participating in the Elkins Lake curbside recycling pilot program may wonder if the proposed gasification plant will render recycling unnecessary. Statistics from the United States EPA state that the nation recycled 83 million tons of municipal solid waste with a 182 million metric ton reduction of carbon dioxide emissions; this is comparable to removing the emissions of 33 million cars off the road. In a word, recycling remains a beneficial way to handle our trash.

Reducing consumption, reusing items (or purchasing reusable items such as cloth diapers and reusable water bottles), and recycling are three key ways to reduce the MSW in our landfills, and by default, reduce their methane emissions. On a pound for pound basis, landfills have 21 times more greenhouse gas effect than the CO2 that comes from gasification.
Unfortunately, while America has reduced the amount of waste being produced in the last decade, there is still an immense amount of garbage headed to landfills.
According to the U.S. EPA 2008 report, Americans generated about 250 million tons of trash. While the number of U.S. landfills steadily declined, the average landfill size has increased.
The Bush Power Group LLC proposes a reduction in Huntsville’s municipal solid waste using plasma gasification to convert waste like household and commercial garbage, plant materials, paint, tires, lithium and lead acid batteries, used motor oil and oil filters, household hazardous waste, items containing CFc’s, and florescent light bulbs into saleable assets.

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